Web of Science Journal Evaluation Process and Selection Criteria

Web of Science Core Collection

The curation process for Web of Science Core Collection™ is unique: our editorial decisions are conducted by our expert in-house editors who have no affiliations to publishing houses or research institutes thus removing any potential bias or conflict of interest.

Each editor is focused on specific subject categories enabling them to gain a deep, nuanced knowledge of the journals in that field. This level of in-house editorial curation contrasts with methods used to create other commercially available databases that rely on predominantly algorithmic approaches and/or delegate aspects of editorial decision making to the research community.

The basic principles of our selection process remain the same: objectivity, selectivity and collection dynamics. We use a single set of 28 criteria to evaluate journals; these are divided into 24 quality criteria designed to select for editorial rigor and best practice at the journal level, and four impact criteria designed to select the most impactful journals in their respective fields using citation activity as the primary indicator of impact.

Journals that meet the quality criteria enter Emerging Sources Citation Index™ (ESCI). Journals that meet the additional impact criteria enter Science Citation Index Expanded™ (SCIE), Social Sciences Citation Index™ (SSCI) or Arts & Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) depending on their subject area. We use the term “flagship” to collectively refer to SCIE, SSCI and AHCI.

Collection Dynamics

These are dynamic collections subject to periodic re-evaluation to ensure journals are in the appropriate collection. ESCI journals that gain impact move to SCIE, SSCI or AHCI. Similarly, SCIE, SSCI and AHCI journals that decrease in impact move to ESCI. Any journal that fails to meet the 24 quality criteria will be removed from the Web of Science Core Collection. Journals in ESCI are re-evaluated for possible inclusion in SCIE, SSCI or AHCI when their citation activity indicates that the impact criteria may be met, regardless of the time since their last evaluation. In this process, journals are re-evaluated for quality first and impact evaluation is subject to quality being met. If both quality and impact criteria are met, the journal moves to a flagship collection.

In recent years our strategy has been to re-evaluate ESCI journals that have an estimated Journal Impact Factor™ (JIF) that places them in Q1 or Q2 in the JIF ranking of their relevant flagship category. These re-evaluations have been on hold as of 2022 as our current focus is on evaluating journals for quality rather than impact. We will prioritize new journals submitted for evaluation, in parallel with ensuring we remove any content from Web of Science that no longer meets our quality criteria. All new journals selected for coverage are currently added to ESCI and impact evaluations for new and existing journals remain on hold as of 2022.

If valid concerns are raised regarding an indexed journal, either by users or through monitoring by our in-house editors, the journal will be re-evaluated according to our selection criteria.  Where valid concerns are raised about the quality of the content published by the journal, new content will not be indexed during the course of the re-evaluation.  When the evaluation is complete, the publisher will be informed of the outcome and the journal will either:

  • be removed from coverage if it no longer meets the quality criteria
  • or remain covered if it continues to meet the quality criteria.

If the journal meets the quality criteria, any missing content will be indexed.  If the journal is removed from coverage, content will not be backfilled. In the most serious cases of breaches in the journal’s editorial standards, as determined by our selection criteria, published content may be removed from Web of Science™. Timeframes for completing a re-evaluation will depend on the particular circumstances of each case.

Description of Evaluation Steps and Criteria

Initial Triage

The principal purpose of this triage step is to ensure unambiguous identification of the journal submitted for evaluation and to know who to contact if we have any queries or concerns. There is no embargo period for re-submission if a journal does not pass initial triage.


The journal must have a registered ISSN that is verifiable on the ISSN database (https://portal.issn.org/) and is clearly and consistently displayed on all journal platforms (electronic and/or print). If both print and electronic ISSNs are present both should be provided.

Journal Title

The journal must have a distinct title that is aligned with the registered ISSN, the journal’s stated scope, published content, and community demographic (editorial board and authors). The title should be consistently displayed at the article, issue (if present), journal, and website level.

Journal Publisher

The publisher name must be clearly defined, and a verifiable, physical address (not P.O. Box) for the publisher’s business offices must be provided. If there is a society affiliation or ownership, this should be stated, and verifiable contact information must be provided.

Journal URL

Where both online and print editions are available, it is mandatory to provide the journal URL and full-text access details of current content.

Content Access

The Web of Science editorial team must have full access to the published content with all necessary permissions to view that content. For subscription or hybrid journals the Web of Science will provide IP ranges as the preferred route of access, alternatively publishers may provide a non-expiring username and password.

Presence of Peer Review Policy

The journal must provide a readily accessible, clear statement of its commitment to peer review and/or editorial oversight of all published content. Primary research articles must be subject to external peer review. Types of review that are particular to certain scholarly communities, where they are broadly accepted (e.g., arts or law journals) will be taken into consideration.

Contact Details

Contact details for the submitted journal’s primary editorial and production roles must be provided to allow direct communication between the Web of Science and the journal staff.

Editorial Triage

In this step, the Web of Science editors review the journal to determine whether a full editorial evaluation is merited. There is no embargo period for re-submission if a journal does not pass editorial triage in its first evaluation. If a journal is subsequently re-submitted and fails editorial triage for a second consecutive time, re-submission is subject to an embargo period of one year.

Scholarly Content

The journal must contain primarily original scholarly material. The academic level of the research reported should be appropriate to a graduate, post-doctoral, and/or professional research audience.

Article Titles and Article Abstracts in English

Regardless of the language of the main body of published content, the journal must provide an accurate, comprehensible English language translation of all article titles. Scholarly articles must have abstracts, and those abstracts must be translated to English.

Bibliographic Information in Roman Script

Cited references, names, and affiliations must be published in Roman script to allow rapid, accurate indexing, and easy comprehension by our global users.

Clarity of Language

For titles, abstracts, and all other published text presented in English, the language must be clear and comprehensible to a global audience.

Timeliness and/or Publication Volume

The journal must state whether it has a defined publication frequency, or if it operates under an irregular or continuous publication schedule. The journal must conform to the stated schedule. The volume of scholarly articles published annually should demonstrate the journal is attracting sufficient interest from the relevant scholarly community to be sustainable. The journal must also have published enough content across the breadth of its scope to allow comprehensive evaluation.

Website Functionality/Journal Format

Website information must be accurate, the information architecture and navigation system must ensure easy access to the published content and all other features defining the journal (such as Editorial Board, instructions to authors, peer review, access model, and so on). The journal website must clearly link to the publisher website and vice versa.

Presence of Ethics Statements

The journal must be transparent about their ethical requirements for authors and published works. If the journal supports and uses one or more third-party organization’s principles (WAME, COPE, Declaration of Helsinki, etc.), either the full text of the guidelines should be presented and appropriately credited to the source, or a functioning link to the full text of the guideline should be provided.

Editorial Affiliation Details

Editorial Board Members must be identifiable and available for contact. Names and institutional affiliations – including country/region – of all members of the editorial team are required (such as Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board Members, Associate Editors, Regional Editors etc.). These details must also be provided for Guest Editors of special issues. Persistent digital identifiers (such as ResearcherID or ORCID) or links to institutional profiles may be provided to specify the identity and affiliation of Editorial Board Members.

Author Affiliation Details

Authors of all scholarly works must be accurately identified. Names and institutional affiliations – including country/region – of all contributing authors are required. Persistent digital identifiers (such as ResearcherID or ORCID) or links to institutional profiles may be provided to specify the identity and affiliation of authors.

Editorial Evaluation (quality)

In this step, the Web of Science editors are checking for alignment between the journal’s title, stated scope, the composition of its editorial board and authorship, and its published content. They are also looking for evidence of editorial rigour and adherence to community standards.

Responsibility and accountability for the quality of all published content, including any special issue content, lies with the publisher and the editorial board of the journal.

If a journal does not pass this step, re-submission is subject to an embargo period of at least two years.

Editorial Board Composition

Editor and Editorial Board Member affiliations, geographic diversity, and publication records must be consistent with the stated scope and published content of the journal. The size and composition of the Editorial Board must be consistent with the volume and breadth of publication output. Due consideration will be given to journals that employ full-time professional editors.

Validity of Statements

Published content should demonstrate adherence to the policies declared by the journal. All information displayed on the journal website should be accurate and up to date. It is not the intention of our review to enforce ethical and plagiarism standards. As required, however, we will undertake investigation of questionable content or false claims.

Peer Review

Published content must reflect adequate and effective peer review and/or editorial oversight. Signs of deficient peer review include, but are not limited to, articles that demonstrate lack of scholarly rigor or scientific validity, presence of articles outside the scope of the journal or irrelevant citations.

Content Relevance

The journal must have a well-defined scope and statement of purpose showing focus and coherence. Published content must be consistent with the title and stated scope of the journal and where relevant the special issue in which it is published.

Grant Support Details

In subject areas where grant support is common or required, appropriate acknowledgement regarding the source of funding is recommended.

Adherence to Community Standards

Editorial policies are consistent with recognized best practices, such as COPE Core Practices, and/or national and international organizations and scholarly societies that advance principles for research integrity within their communities. Articles in the journal are consistent with accepted best practices in their subject area (for example, accepted standards in organism or chemical nomenclature).

Author Distribution

The authors must have affiliations, geographic diversity, and publication records that validate their participation in the scholarly community associated with the stated scope of the journal.

Appropriate Citations to the Literature

It is expected that articles will appropriately acknowledge the surrounding literature for the topic.

Editorial Evaluation (impact)

The criteria in this step are designed to select for the most influential journals in a given field of research, using citation activity as a primary indicator of impact. If a journal does not pass this step its performance will be monitored. The journal will be re-evaluated when citation activity indicates that the impact criteria may be met.

Comparative Citation Analysis

Our most selective indices (SCIE, SSCI and AHCI) contain the most impactful journals in their discipline. In the comparative citation analysis both the number and the sources of the citations to the journal are taken into consideration. The stability of citation activity is also considered, as we are looking not only at the influence of a journal in a given year but also the sustainability of that influence.

Author Citation Analysis

Most authors should have a discernible publication history in the Web of Science. Authors’ citation networks should be appropriate to the category and to journals of comparable scope.

Editorial Board Citation Analysis

Most Editorial Board Members should have a discernible publication history in the Web of Science. Editorial Board Members’ citation networks should be appropriate to the category and to journals of comparable scope.

Content Significance

The content in the journal should be of interest, importance, and value to its intended readership and to Web of Science subscribers. Content significance may be evidenced as a unique specialization, novel perspective, regional focus, unusual content, or content that enriches the breadth of Web of Science coverage. These attributes are not exclusively reflected in journal-level citation activity.

Watch a recorded presentation of the Web of Science Journal Evaluation Process and Selection Criteria

Relationship between Web of Science Core Collection and Journal Citation Reports

The Journal Citation Reports™ (JCR) is updated annually. Journals that are accepted into SCIE, SSCI, AHCI or ESCI before January 1st, and that remain covered in one of these collections when JCR production is started in March, are eligible to appear in the June release of the JCR data and receive a Web of Science Journal Citation Indicator (JCI). Previously, only SCIE and SSCI journals that met these requirements were also eligible to receive a Journal Impact Factor™ (JIF). From the June 2023 JCR release, all journals that meet these requirements are also eligible to receive a Journal Impact Factor™ (JIF). More information is available here.


How to submit

To submit journals for evaluation, use the Web of Science Publisher Portal.

Please note: Only journal publishers are granted access to the Publisher Portal and only journal publishers can submit evaluation requests. The Publisher Portal should only be used to submit evaluation requests for journals not currently indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection and should not be used to submit re-evaluation requests for journals indexed in ESCI.  Impact re-evaluations for journals currently indexed in ESCI will be conducted based on internal monitoring and not in response to requests submitted by publishers.